Monday, 28 February 2011

National Identity Part Three

OK, third time lucky. I've already written two blogs in a matter of minutes about nationality and such, and missed the point I wanted to make. So this time, I'm definitely going to mention it.

In doing my research for the one of the earlier blogs about George Dockrell (yes, I do research sometimes), I stumbled across this. "Birth Country No Bar at the CWC". I suggest you read it, as it's far more interesting than anything you'd read on this site.

The nations at the World Cup can be (and have been, many times) split into two camps - the Big Boys and the Minnows. Players will want to play for the Big Boys, because it increases their chance of success, and for associate players, increases their chance of playing in tests. (As well as a heap of other reasons, seen in the second of my three-parter) And every nation will want to best players at their disposal to play for them.

So Big Boys England have recruited Trott and Pietersen (as well as Irish Joyce and Morgan turning out for them as well). South Africa have got Imran Tahir in. And New Zealand got Grant Elliot (must be gutted that Tendulkar doesn't have a second-cousin in Dunedin). They are able to attract players who are good enough to be playing internationally for their nations of birth for whatever reason to play for them.

The Minnows, however, have it differently. As seen with the Morgan / Joyce / Dockrell issue, the associates will struggle to keep hold of their best and brightest. So they will look to find anyone with even the slightest heritage of the nation, or the slightest inclination to live in their country for an allotted time. Hence the Indian and Pakistani Canadian side, South African heavy Dutch, and antipodean Irish team.

While I, and plenty others don't like it, it's in the ICC rules for players to move around, so countries are well within their rights to get in the foreign legion. It shouldn't be, but that's by the by.

Of course it must be difficult for Ireland and the rest to see their best players being lured away by the bright lights of test cricket. So with smaller player pools and their best local talents being lost, no wonder they're turning overseas. Add on top of that the advantages that having good experienced imports can bring.

Cricket Ireland's Barry Chambers said
"In Ireland's case, the players have helped to take Irish cricket to a new level... The players brought a professionalism to the game which has rubbed off on the younger players coming through. Ireland keep producing real gems - Eoin Morgan before he switched to England"

And Dutch Ed van Neirop said players from overseas had lifted the standard of cricket "enormously".

While this could be stopping local talent from emerging, it could also be improving the skills of the guys around and helping them compete. It's a difficult situation. The Minnows want to keep their best players, and their best players want to play for the Big Boys.

There are three groups of adopted nation-ites. Group 1 - the foreign national brought in to improve a side (see here Trott, Pietersen, Trent Johnston). Group 2 - the associate player who wants more (see here Morgan, Joyce). And Group 3 (the "have your cake and eat it" bunch) - the guys from the big nations who aren't picked for their country, but try and get picked at home. (see here Dirk Nannes playing for Holland in the 2009 T20 World Cup before playing for Australia). Were I in charge of the ICC, I'd immediately outlaw all of 1, 2 and 3, but sadly I'm unlikely to become president in the next few years, so the situation will continue. The foreign legion in cricket is a growing problem, and ultimately devalues the notion of "inter-nation" cricket.

I don't really know what to say about this anymore, I've been writing about players applying for new passports solidly for a few hours now, and I have nothing else to add. So there's my conclusion - inter-nation cricket should be between the people of one nation and another. Not people of various countries all wearing one shirt, facing off against a team of players for other disparate countries wearing another.

Why would George Dockrell want to be English?

OK, I just wrote this. I had a go at Ireland's George Dockrell for saying he wants to play for England, and for the rules being in place that could allow him to do so. (And have already seen Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan flip-flop merrily between the two nations).

But I'll be fair, and look at why 81 year old 18 year old George (I liked that nickname so much I'm using it again) may want to turn in his shamrock for the three lions.

Well, the first and most obvious draw is test cricket. The pinnacle of world cricket. Everyone who's ever dreamed of playing professional cricket has dreamed of scoring the winning runs in a test. Nobody dreams about playing in the Associate Division Three. (I don't know if that league exists, I just made it up). Put simply, England play tests, and Ireland don't. And don't look like playing it in the next couple of years. So it would only be natural to try and get to play test cricket, even if it means starting afresh in a new country. It's a gamble. Ed Joyce didn't make it. Eoin Morgan did. George Dockrell would only make the switch if he felt that he has a chance to play in tests. But he would feel that it's a gamble worth taking (assuming, of course, that he does decide to hand in his Irish passport and apply for a British one).

There are other factors. Tests aside, England are just a bigger team than Ireland. They will have better facilities. The players will be better looked after off-field. And England are more likely to go out and win some things in some big competitions. As much as Irish cricket has grown over recent years, that too is something that can't be offered to Dockrell if he stays green. If he gets into the England squad, he'll be playing against, and training alongside the best players in the world week-in, week-out. He'll be able to hone his game and improve as a player. Other than the odd world tournament every couple of years, Irish cricket can't offer that either.

Dockrell has moved to Somerset on a couple of years contract. He may marry an English lady (or feller, given today's news) and have some kids who consider themselves to be English. And in time, he may to be belting out "God save the Queen" rather than "Ireland's Call" at the rugby. He may put up a St Georges flag on his roof, and get the three lions tattooed on his arm. He may eat fish and chips, washed down with cups of tea, before going on long walks through the country with his beagles. He could go home to watch the tennis, and applaud politely as Britain's number one gets knocked out in the first round. He might even induldge in a bit of binge drinking. But whatever his passport may say, George Dockrell will always be Irish, which is why as much as he may want all of that, he shouldn't be allowed to play for England.

And the same goes to any player, of any nation, who fancies swapping shirts.

Wanting A New Country.

Ahead of the England - Ireland game, stories like this were always going to happen. At one stage, we could have seen Eoin Morgan line up for Ireland, 4 years after lining up for Ireland against them. And we will see Ed Joyce bat for the Irish, 4 years after playing for his adopted nation.

I've spoken literally days ago about players representing nations that aren't their own, and a bit longer ago about players chopping and changing their nation depending on the path their careers have taken.

And once more, with the big clash tomorrow between the respective "Rest of the World XIs" (harsh) the issue of playing for a different country than ones passport suggests has reared it's ugly head once more.

George Dockrell, the 81 year old 18 year old (because he has grey hair), who is Irish, has come out and said that he fancies playing for England. This is the same George Dockrell who is about to take on that said England side tomorrow. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...


That would be quite a simplistic place (and a nice snappy ending) on which to finish this blog. But I want to say something more profound (and controversial) about this issue. Eoin Morgan should not be playing for England. Ed Joyce should never have played for England. And George Dockrell should never play for England.

The whole issue of nationality in cricket is a pretty murky one, and we've seen players like Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Craig Kieswetter (to name but four) play for England recently after previously being bona fide South Africans. We've also had Aussie Brendan Nash playing for the West Indies, Pakistani Imran Tahir and Zim Paul Harris represent South Africa, and Saffer Grant Elliot getting games for New Zealand. And that's just to name a small example from the test playing nations. And doesn't include the Strauss / Prior brigade of being born in a country but growing up somewhere else. Or the associates.

That's one side of the coin. The guys who for one reason or another, whether political, personal or cricketing grounds decide to chance their arm in another country, apply for a passport, and hope for selection. But the other side are the guys who play for one nation, realise that they'd prefer to play for another team, and move on. I'm looking at Dirk Nannes, Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce. Ryan ten Doeschate and Alexei Kervezee have both come out in the last week fluttering their eyes at other nations, and now Dockrell's said he fancies a move away.

What a remarkable lack of loyalty to the nation you're representing on the biggest stage in world Cricket! Yes, I can see there are clear advantages to playing for South Africa ahead of Holland, or England ahead of Ireland, but as soon as a player pulls on the jersey of one nation, that should be their nation. While the ICC's laws about qualification for a nation do need to be reviewed (the large amount of players I listed as examples off the top of my head is testament to that), they certainly need to outlaw the flip-flopping of players picking and choosing which passport they fancy using at any given time. Were I an Irish fan (by which I mean a 100% one rather than being a plastic Paddy), I'd be livid at Dockrell for basically coming out and shunning my nation, but I'm afraid they'd be more resigned to the fact that their brightest talents will always leave them.

Part One

Podcast - Coming Out of Shane Watson's Closet


The World Cup's been going on for a week now, so Will has a look at the chances of the respective nations. There's some more stuff about the strengths (but mainly weaknesses) of the format of this tournament. England's tie with India is looked at in detail, and Will wonders what it would take to turn him South African. Get on the Fantasy League (with the pin of 1992) and the Sport Guru league with the password 'spedpert'.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

LIVE - India v England!

This was an over-by-over report of the India v England World Cup game. To read it as it was written, start from the bottom and work up!

1735: What a weird, but brilliant game. Exactly what the ICC wanted for their World Cup and dreary 50 over format. Yes, it might just be a group game that has no real bearing on who qualifies, but what entertainment. Ulimately, the tie is probably the fair result, as both teams did enough to win, and lose the game. But how much will India rue Zaheer Khan running one short off their final delivery? Until next time!

1708: I don't know what to think. Who will be happy with a tie? After 40 overs of the India innings, England. After 40 overs of the England innings, India. After 49 overs... who knows. But what a fantastic game. I don't think I'll get my breath back from that for a while. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. I need to go and lie down. FYI my man of the match = Strauss, run very close by Bresnan and Tendulkar. But cricket is the real winnner.


2 from 1. A nice juicy full toss will do here Moony. Swann pushes it away. To the fielder! They can only run one! It's a tie! What an incredible, incredible, flipping unbelievable game!

4 from 2. Swann down the pitch. runs two. i am shaking. cant type. 2 from the last to win, 1 to tie.

5 from 3 swing. miss. they run. 4 from 2.

11 from 4 Shahzad on strike - SIX! HJE HITY S A SIX!!!!!! 5 from 3

12 from 5: Slow ball from Patel. Swann can only push it to third man. Single. Shahzad on strike. Need Swann on strike. 11 from 4. I can hardly breathe.

14 from 6: Munaf Patel in to Swann - agricultural but finds space. Runs two. 12 from 5.

Final over. Three results possible. What a game. What a sport.

England 325/8 (49) - Chawla to Swann. Big heave from Swann. Misses it. Goes again - SIX! 23 needed from 10. Is there hope yet? Clean hit from GPS. Need some more of those. Chawla, in a horrible admittance of his own lack of ability goes round the wicket. Swann swipes - single. Bresnan now - swipes - to the fielder - misfield! Runs two. 20 from 8. Bres connects now - 6!!!! 14 needed from 7! Jumping jack Christ - could they? Chawla again - BOWLED HIM! Bresnan goes - in comes Shahzad - 14 needed from the last over. But what a game from Timmy B - brilliant. Shame he couldn't guide us in. 14 from 9 from Tim.

England 310/7 (48) - Out walks Swann. "He's no mug" says Shastri. Moony only restricts England to three singles off the last three balls of the over. 5 off it in total, and the wicket. How much are England regretting taking that SODDING POWERPLAY. 29 from 12.

@CricketMirror: India should win from here but bressie lad is no mug with a bat. His power eng's only hope...although wkts not helping

WICKET! Yardy c Sehwag b Munaf England 307/7 32 needed of 15. - Three overs to go. Moony with two left will have 48 and 50, who will have 49? Anyway, Yards on strike, pushes it away for one. Need boundaries. Need some magic. Just one big over swings this right back. 33 off 17 needed. Bres comes down the ground and they can only squeeze one. The singles that Strauss and Bell were taking easily earlier felt so good - now the singles of Bres and Yards feel so insignificant. Moony goes over the wicket - and Yardy pokes it straight to the man at short fine leg. Double bollocks. Strauss has his head in his hands. Think this game's now fully slipped away.

England 305/6 (47) - Last over of the powerplay. And last over for Zaheer. Harby's just bowled out, and this is ZK's last too. If England can get through this, can they take advantage of less experienced / not as good overs from the others? Singles apiece from the first two balls, Bres goes over the top to pick up two. 300 up. 38 needed off 21. Who said 50 over cricket was dead. Not me for one*. *That's a lie. Slower ball from Zaheer, Bres misses it. Bugger. Runs a leg bye. Yardy pushes it - takes two. Seven off the first 5 balls. 35 from 19 needed. Zaheer's last ball late cut from Micky Y - and well fielded on the edge of the ring. That was a certain four otherwise. 34 needed from the last 3 overs. Flipping tense, this.


England 297/5 (46) - What a turnaround this is. India were dead and buried, and the crowd and fielders were incredibly flat. Now it's a wall of noise and fielders are verywhere. Yardy charges Harby and edges him! It's running away to the boundary, but Moony gets there and reels it in. Yardy goes again - 4! 43 needed off 25 - can it be done? New man #timbresnanisbrilliant is in, come on Bressy Lad! Harby to bowl... dabbed into the off side from Bres. 42 needed from 24. Easy on Stick Cricket...

WICKET! Prior goes Oh No! England 289/6 needing loads more with not many balls or wickets left :( - Harby back into the attack. Prior slaps one uppishly over the infield for two - but skies one! Uh-oh. Every fibre of my being begs sub Reina (shouldn't be on the pitch IMO), but safe hands Suresh does the biz.

England 287/5 (44) - In comes Yardy. Does it go without saying I'd much rather see Ravi Bopara (I won't even mention Eoin Morgan). Mick pushes away his first ball for one. 53 from 32. Prior backs away, but can only get one. 52 from 31. Run rate over 10 for the first time. Boundaries needed. Yorker from Zak - dot ball! 52 from the last five overs - all of this hard work going to waste? But ZK only has one over left - can England score in the other four?

WICKET! Collingwood b Zaheer 1 (5) England 285/5 (44.3) - Zak still on. Time since last boundary growing - now 26 balls. They scramble a chancy leg bye but Prior makes it comfortably despite Zak knocking down the stumps. Single taken by Prior to long off. Suddenly going ARUB isn't enough - England need big hits. This game has massively turned. Collingwood charges Zak and MISSES IT! COLLINGWOOD BOWLED BY KHAN! OH WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

England 283/4 (44) - Field up to Chawla - Prior belts a couple but because the field is up England can't score. Why did they take the powerplay? Why are they doing this to me? Two runs off Chawlsy's over - three off the last two. I can't take this any more. 56 from 36 needed. England are throwing this away.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ Blog has said... God Save the Queen. Sung vocally by all, except Trott and Pietersen. What can we read into that?"
Well the concept of a "queen" is hard to grasp for someone who grew up in a... umm... errr...mmmumblemmmhhh
"Shahzy"?? Come on, now that's bad. What about Ajjers?
I love Michael Yardy. Don't tell anybody.
Morgan in the car video put me off. There was no need to rub it in my face again. What a bogan really. Have stripped him of the "Sir Eoin" tag.
"His first ball is put away for four by Sachin, who's now in the "probably not so nervous for him because he's been there and done it many times" nineties.""
Haha nice.
"And we finally know why Luke Wright got picked for the World Cup squad - as a specialist sub fielder!"
Splendid! ^^
Brilliant description of the Pietersen wicket. However, "Chawlsy" is a tad too much.
England 280-2 now with not many overs to go. Don't let them bog you down, 7.53 runs needed now per over.
>>> Wes I will deal with that, but not now. I can only see the game at the moment.

England 281/4 (43) - First powerplay over from Zak - 010WW0. What an over - exactly what India needed. And exactly what England didn't need. Bollocks.

@SurreyCCC: Oh England....really?

WICKET! Strauss lbw Zaheer for 158 (145) England 281/4 I can't watch. Next ball after the wicket Strauss caught in front - definitely out. Refers in vain, but he has to go. Don't say England are throwing it away...

WICKET! Bell c Kohli b Zaheer 68 (66)England 281/3 Jeepers - England take the powerplay. This could either win the game, or lose it. These are the gambles. With Bell struggling to run, they're unable to pick up the quick singles that have been the hallmark of the innings - and Bell holes out - up in the air and taken by Kohli! Those pesky powerplays - are England throwing it away?

@legsidefilth: Ding Dong is down. Have a couple minutes' sit down, lad, you've earned it. #cwc2011

England 280/2 (42) - Bell gets up after a stretch and soldiers on. Runner-less. 4 dot balls in a row - Chawla trying to get a foothold for India here. Only the two off the over once Chawls completes it, 59 needed off 48.

England 278/2 (41.2) - The Chawlanator still going and induces an edge from Bell. Which is dropped at slip. That's a big drop, India have really let themselves down in the field tonight. Bell is really struggling now with cramp. The physio runs out, followed by Luke Wright with a water bottle. The only thing he's good for?

@finnysteve: Come on the lads. Awesome so far. Let's finish them off!!

England 278/2 (41) - Still Harby who's approaching the end of his allocated 10. Strauss and Bell running hard; lazy fielding from Gambhir allows two off the last ball. Indian body language not good. 6 off the over. 61 off 54 needed.

England 272/2 (40) - Chawla back in - and is struggling to find his length. Looking distinctly long hoppish - and Strauss pulls him away to bring up his 150 - the third time he has done so. Has Strauss got scores of 150+ more than he has 100-149? Anyone know? Anyway, England need 67 from the last 10 overs.

@the_topspin: These two have now added more runs than any England pair in the World Cup. And Strauss has England's best World Cup score...

England 263/2 (39) - Moony Patel into his 8th now. With 11 left after this, and only two more for him and 3 more for Zak, India will need to put big trust in Chawla. Bell drives - in the air! But safe! The nation bbreathes a collective sigh of relief as Bell's one handed drive loops up but lands calmly in the Bangalore turf. Misfield from sub Suresh Raina costs a run - how important could that be? No boundaries in a few overs, but 8 off it. 76 off 66 needed.

England 255/2 (38) - Harby still toiling away - into his eighth now. Still no reward for him. Bell and Strauss expertly knocking it around - this innings from Bell is a perfect example of his growth in maturity over the last 18 months. How many would he have made in this situation were it 2008? A quick 20 before getting out? Really composed stuff from Belly. England need 84 runs from 72 balls

England 250/2 (37) - The little column with "runs required" slowly but surely getting smaller. Moony bowling with hostility - no boundaries off the over - the first time in quite a few overs that's happened. But probably more importantly - no wickets either... England need 89 runs from 78 balls

England 246/2 (36) - Harby back in for some suspect armed spin. Strauss drives - uppish! But safe! Four! And uppish again! Luck on England's side - no fielders in sight. Got to agree with Nasser Hussain (who's been bagging Dhoni for ages on the TV comms) - Dhoni's captaincy has been poor. Another big scoring over of 9. Talk turns to the powerplay - but for my money England don't need to risk changing anything. All going well at the moment. If we need to slog last five overs, so be it. Don't need to risk losing this now by gambling unnecessarily. 93 runs from 84 balls needed.

cricketwballs: India looking as bad in the field as they look good with the bat.

England 237/2 (35) - Moony Patel back in. 16 overs to get 110 runs. Now we're back into the recognised bowlers can India take some wickets to change the momentum in this game? Short from Moony - and pulled away for four from Strauss! England continuing to hit an early boundary in the over to maintain the run rate before dobbing it around. Good strategy - has worked so far! This time 8 runs from the over, the rate being kept throughout.

GraemeSmith49: Reckon this is the last time india will play on a wicket that doesn't spin in this world cup....what you think??;-) > Controversial stuff Boof!

England 229/2 (34) - Chawls back in - Bell dobs one in the air - Yuvi dives for it but can't reach - and then shies at the stumps! All going on here! I can't take this tension! Next ball hit in the air - is it going to make it - it does! Six for Bell and that's his fifty! Takes a single to get Strauss on strike - and now he hits in the air! The fielder dives but can't reach - and it runs away for 4! 13 off the over and that's drinks. Make mine a stiff one...

Wes ~PFCNFS~ Blog said... Haha what is this. Damn I only just saw it in the Google Reader a minute ago. Damn. Great idea! So much to read. I got a bowl of noms, so here we go > Good to have you on board Wes!

England 216/2 (33) - Still Yuvraj. They way it's worked out, this will probably be the last part-time over, so Strauss cashes in with the first six of the innings - huge over mid on! 94 metres; third on the list so far this WC. 100 partnership up, 9 off the over. It's getting closer...

England 207/2 (32) - More from Zak. Again, like earlier, appears to take Strauss's edge, but mystifyingly no appeal from anyone. Bell takes the strike, and plays an uppish shot near fielders that sees the sphincter of every England fan tighten. But it runs away for four. A couple of easy singles; seven off the over, and every over Zak bowls now is an over he doesn't bowl at the death...

@VaughanCricket: Incredible 100 from the skipper .. If England don't panic they should win this with a over to spare ..

England 200/2 (31) - Yuvi trundles on for his sixth. Pretty inoffensive stuff, and IRB and Straussy happy to keep it ticking over. Required rate now 7.32, but England will feel that with Strauss and Bell well set, they can do it. Can they? CAN THEY?

@the_topspin: So, here we are. England need 143 off 20 overs with eight wickets in hand. History is achievable...

England 196/2 (30) - MSD turns back for a bit of a Zak Attack. (For those of you who didn't understand that, Zaheer Khan back into the attack). And he starts with three dots to Bell. Pace for the first time sicne the 10th over, which appears troubling. But Bell edges one and it goes for 4! If you take the old adage of doubling the score after 30, England will piss this! Indian heads dropping in the field...

@WesPFCNFS: The Strauss ton arouses me in a disturbing fashion

England 190/2 (29) - This is all too easy for England - Strauss and Bell are milking this more than adequately. Partnership 79 from 74, England need 149 from 21 overs with 8 wickets (and a powerplay) in hand. *Don't jinx it, don't jinx it, don't jinx it...*

@the_topspin: Strauss gets to his hundred off 99 balls: four quicker than Sachin! A generous hand from the Chinnaswamy crowd...

England 182/2 (28) - Yusuf's over costs 10 as both Bell and Strauss take a boundary and a single apiece. Strauss's single brings up his ton - the first time an England captain has made a 100 at a World Cup. Well batted!

100! Andy Strauss 100 off 99 balls! - Equally as important a knock as Tendulkar's. Needs to go on though. If he bats through, England will win. The job not done yet though, by a long way.

England 172/2 (27) - Yuvraj being milked - 5 runs off the over.

spincricket: What a crock of sh1t. What's the 2.5m rule? Anyway, cmon England! He survives!

England 167/2 (26) - Big moment that. Bell was walking off, the crowd thought he was out, and Collingwood was on his way down to the pitch. But thanks to a technicality, he's given not out. That could be a big moment, and it's awoken this crowd who'd gone a bit quiet following a good spell for England. Four runs taken off Yusuf Pathan's over.

REFERRAL! Bell struck on the pad by Yuvi. Given not out. But it's touch and go - all three were reds! He's got to go! Or... not? Bell was walking, but because he was 2.5 metres (the margin of error) away from his sticks, he's granted a reprieve. All a bit confusing, that.

England 163/2 (25) - Bell now getting in on the act, late cutting Yuvi for 4. And there's the 50 partnership in the blink of an eye. If these two stick in for a bit...

England 156/2 (24) - This is now mirroring the India innings where England kept bowling without looking like taking a wicket. Strauss and Bell really milking new bowler Yusuf Pathan (also on my fantasy team), taking seven off the over. A beautifully delicate reverse paddle in there from Straussy, gorgeous stuff.

England 149/2 (23) - Strauss reaches out and flicks Yuvraj for a lovely four. I do love watching Strauss bat. Seven off the over. England keeping this tick over, and are also keeping wickets in hand. Dare we dream?

@aggerscricket: Well-paced run chase thus far. India clearly still favourites, but we have a game. Strauss a different ODI batsman since becoming captain

England 142/2 (22) - Strauss looking very, very good. If he keeps on going, England have a sniff. Not much happened that over, apart from Harbhajan preferring to pick a fight with a disinterested Ian Bell rather than field the ball. Sums him up.

England 138/2 (21) - Change in the attack with Yuvraj "KP's nemesis" Singh coming on. Only KP's out. So why's he bowling again? 6 off the over.

England 132/2 (20) - Appeal for lbw to Strauss from Harby but replays show was probably missing off stump. England need 207 from 30 overs. It could happen...

iamthewrongun: Ian Bell is the ginger Tendulkar hear him roar #cwc2011 #cricket

England 128/2 (19) - After bowling a great over last up, the Chawlster loses it this one and gets put away for 10. A few dodgy balls dispatched to the fence by Strauss. At this stage India were 20 runs behind, so something to think about for England. Can they do it?

England 118/2 (18) - Cries of catch as Strauss slaps Harby in the air, but there's no fielders within 40 miles and the ball goes for 4. 6 off the over, with the req. rate nudging ever higher - now 6.9 for victory.

England 112/2 (17) - Super bowling from Chawla. He had Trott in all sorts of trouble before getting him out, and then had Bell tangled up in his first two balls to Bell. Chawla into his groove - now the key wicket is Strauss.

WICKET! Trott lbw Chawla 16 (19) England 111/2 (16.4) - Nelson strikes! Trott looked a bit clueless to some of Chawla's variations, and was caught plumb in front. I thought there was a bit of bat involved, but no argument from Trotsky so off he (ahem) trots. Bell next in.

England 110/1 (16) - Harby is keeping it tight - just three of that over and he's bowled 7 dots in his 3 overs. If he bowls well, England are right up against it. If they weren't already...

England 107/1 (15) - Chawls bowling qiute a few doosras to Cap'n Strauss, but the double Ashes winning skipper sweeps, and gets four, thanks to a pretty poor attempt at stopping it from Tendulkar. Chawla thinks about giving Tendulkar some abuse, but realises the respective statuses of the two, and thinks better of it. Strauss and Trott going well is good news all round, as they're both mainstays of my Fantasy Team. Strauss is even my captain. To get involved, go to cricinfo and enter the league pin 1992. See you there!

England 102/1 (14) - Trott tucks Harby off his pads for four, before allowing Strauss to bring up his 50. In removing his helmet in sort-of-celebration, Strauss shows his hair. Either his receding hairline has gone into overdrive since the Australia tour or he's had a brutal haircut. Probably the latter. It's halfway between Jonny Trott and Matt Prior. Interesting.

England 94/1 (13) - Better from Chawlsy, even throwing in a doosra, just for the lols. Strauss misreads it, but his edge escapes fielders and finds the boundary. 4,000 ODI runs from Strauss - good going skip.

England 86/1 (12) - Spin at both ends as Harbhajan comes on. Three singles taken as Strauss'n'Trott have a look.

England 83/1 (11) - Powerplay 2 taken, and wristy Chawla on for a bowl. He looks a touch nervous though - the first few balls are all dragged down long hops. But England milk it about and move to 83 after 11.

@NeilMCarter: India have all the arse in the world! Patel never saw that!

England 77/1 (10) - That weird dismissal doesn't appear to have threatened England - new man Trott off the mark with a three and Strauss puts away a loose one for four. England take 77 from the first 10 - the highest amount so far this World Cup.

WICKET! Pietersen c and b Munaf 31 (22) England 68/1 (9.3) - Munaf strikes Strauss on the pad and appeals, but is turned down. Frustration grows as the ball rebounds for four. Strauss gets off strike, and Pietersen unleashes an absolute howitzer straight down the ground. Moony, with his life flashing before him, sticks out a hand to stop it breaking his face. The force of it knocks him over, before he realises that the ball has rebounded in the air, and sitting down he takes the catch to dismiss Pietersen in a freakish way!

England 63/0 (9) - Two glorious KP fours keep the runs piling on. This Strauss/KP partnership looking like an experiment that's paying off. 12 from the over. Good start, but England will need to keep going like this for a while before seriously thinking about winning.

England 51/0 (8) - Couple of singles off Moony - England have run hard so far - much harder than the Indians did who plain rejected a few singles at one stage. Running quick singles and turning ones into twos is just what England do well.

England 49/0 (7) - KP getting a crack on here - pair of boundaries off Zak, as well as another one fielded on the fence. 13 off the over, and England are sitting pretty. If you can sit pretty when chasing 339.

England 36/0 (6) - Dropped catch! After setting off like the proverbial house on fire, Strauss was getting frustrated by not scoring freely over the last few overs, and chipped one to mid on. Harhajan was there, and went at it one handed, missed it, and it trickled away for four. Should have been taken.

England 28/0 (5) - Another tight one from Zak. 3 from the over.

hannah_itfc: @shortmidwicket I think he hit it. The blood drained from my face for a moment, then I realised they weren't appealing. #cwc2011

England 25/0 (4) - Replays certainly suggest Straussy got a big nick on that one, but not given. However, as nobody appealed the umpire could have been ready to give it but couldn't! Also, the lack of appeal negates the "Strauss should have walked argument", as they should have appealed. In the actual over I'm writing about - Munaf keeps it tight with only two coming off it. Good recovery from Zak and Moony.

England 23/0 (3) - Better stuff from Zaheer tying Strauss down - but two well run twos keep the score moving. But off the final ball Strauss appears to edge one - but no appeal from bowler or keeper. I reckon Strauss has got away with one there!

England 19/0 (2) - KP hits a 4 off the new bowler Munaf Patel, before Straussy chips in with his third. England going at a rate of 9.5 - absolutely pissing this!

England 8/0 (1) - Straussy to face Zak, and two fours from the England skipper see England off to a good start. England need to get off to a flyer with a big partnership to even have a chance, you feel. And this will help.

1315:Okie dokes, we're back and ready to go. KP and Strauss are in the middle, and the first over is from Zaheer. Play ball.

1257: Right, I'm off to have some lunch. See you after the break. You can amuse yourself by listening to one of my podcasts. See you in a bit.

1256: So India don't make use of the 50 overs, and will probably be quite upset that they've "only" made 338 after looking set to make a considerably bigger one though. They'll still fancy defending it though, but England have that all-important momentum...

WICKET! Zaheer run out 4 (5) India all out 338 (49.5): Well, who would have thought that England would bowl India out after 40 overs. Go on, hands up? Well, they have. Comical running the last few balls sees Strauss lob the ball back to keeper Prior to complete an easy run out.

WICKET! Chawla run out 2 (4) India 338/9 (48.4) - Jimmy A bowls three OK ish balls before probably the worst delivery in the history of the World Cup - a horrible full toss that bounces about an inch infront of wicket-keeper Matt Prior and runs away for four no balls. But Chawla plays a bit of hit and run failing to see that the ball only reached bowler Jim on his follow through. The Burnley Express whips off the bails with Piyush barely half way down the pitch. India 9 down.

India 329/8 (49) - Magic stuff from Tim - three wickets and two runs off that over and he finishes with ODI best figures of 5-48; brilliant considering the pasting the rest of them have had... Final over from Anderson.

@SixSixEight > @shortmidwicket you cant beat a wicket taking bowler can you! #timbresnanisbrilliant

WICKET! Harbajan lbw Bresnan 0 (1) India 328/8 (48.4): No hat-trick for Tim as new man Zaheer pushes it (although nearly a run-out), but it is three in four as he strikes Harby about an inch in front of the stumps with a crushing yorker! Harbs wastes a frivolous appeal - but it's five-fer for Timmy - a million trillion bazillion miles England's best bowler.

WICKET! Kohli b Bresnan 8 (5) India 327/7 (48.2): Two wickets in two balls for Bres - a great yorker that squeezes through Virat's defences - Bresnan on a hat-trick! India messing this up a touch?

WICKET! Pathan c Swann b Bresnan 14 (8) India 327/6 (48.1): Swann makes amends for the horrible fielding next ball as Pathan skies one to mid off where the big chinned spinner does the honours. Another Bresnan wicket.

India 327/5 (48) - Jim back into it, and his great first few balls are undone by a big straight six from Pathan, and a four caused by a notably crap piece of fielding from Swann. He's had a real day to forget today. As has Anderson's who's figures have been pretty atrocious.

India 314/5 (47) - Bressy's been far and away England's best pacer, and he's proving it here. Wicket first ball, and a Pathan four aside, another tight over at the death. Bowling Bres!

WICKET! Dhoni c sub (Wright) b Bresnan 31 (24) India 305/5 (46.1): Two wickets in two balls as Dhoni slaps Bresnan to sub Wright who's literally just come onto the field for two wickets in two balls. That'll help England slow India's runs. And we finally know why Luke Wright got picked for the World Cup squad - as a specialist sub fielder!

WICKET! Yuvraj c Bell b Yardy 58 (50) India 305/4 (46) - Yardy in for his last over, but Dhoni and Yuvi have their eyes in and are ruining his good figures, with Dhoni belting a big six and Yuvi a hoicked four. But that's one shot too many - Yuvraj holes out to Ian Bell at deep midwicket to leave for 58 off 50. Yards finishes with 2-64; and here comes Yusuf Pathan.

India 292/3 (45) - Shahzad still in and Cap'n Strauss trying in vain to stem the flow of runs, but Yuvi and Dhoni still cutting loose. 11 off the over, and Yuvraj bought up his fifty there too. Not the classiest off innings in the Tendulkar mode, but 50 nonetheless.

India 281/3 (44) - Mick Yardy bowling well - only 4 off the over of left arm darts. And yes, calling him Mick as opposed to Mike or Michael is the new editorial policy of The Short Midwicket. We No Speak Americano being blared out in the stands, if you can hear it over the noisy crowd.

India 277/3 (43) - Shahzad back in to have another bowl. Short and not very nice, and Yuvraj happy to spank it away to square leg fence. And after the batsmen cross, a similiar ball to the right handed Dhoni gets a similiar result. Shahzad changes it up, and Dhoni puts it away through cove for another four. Momentum growing again for India - partnership 41 off 27 balls.

India 262/3 (42) - Floodlights are on. Still Mick Yardy. England happy to concede a run a ball - with 50 odd balls left going at ARUB is no disaster. However, a misfield from Swann allows Yuvraj to get a four - somewhat of a rarity since Sachin's gone.

India 251/3 (41) - Bres again, and only five from the over. Surprisingly England did do well (as that tweet suggests) - only 32 from the five overs of fielding restrictions, and with a wicket as well. England sort of clawing it back, but India were miles ahead, so more clawing needed. I'm losing overs all over the place - I'm flagging massively. If anyone wants to take over for the England innings, let me know. I need a nap. And a cry.

@ZaltzCricket: Powerplay going well for England. Yuvraj rather out of touch. He was promoted above Kohli. Or he might have eaten him. Hard to tell.

India 247/3 (39) - Still Yardy, and while his first ball is also put away from MSD, he recovers with an over of 5 - not too shabby given the state of the match and the fact that we're in powerplay overs.

India 242/3 (38) - Sachin hit Jimbo for 4 first ball, but after his leading edge came a dot, and two singles. But Jim drops short, and he's hoicked away by a ruthless Yuvraj, as another ball goes to the fence. While Sachin has now gone, England need more of those wickets, as it's going to be the only way to restrict India's likely big total.

WICKET! Tendulkar c Yardy b Anderson 120 (115) - India 236/3 (38.2) Anderson, who has been a touch expensive to say the least, is offered to the altar of Tendulkar. But a wicket! A leading edge as Tenders tries to work the ball through the on-side and it spoons high up before being taken by a diving Mick Yardy. Tendulkar goes - a special, memorable inings, but it's a case of out of the frying-pan... as in strides MS Dhoni.

India 206/2 (38) - Yardy is the sacrificial lamb to bowl from the other end. Surprisingly his left arm darts have the batsmen in a slight quandary, and only three (including a leg bye) are taken from the over.

India 230/2 (37) - Powerplay taken. Bressy's going to have a go. He's been England's best bowler by miles today but in the powerplay he doesn't have much to work with, and is dispatched for a few. I missed an over out there, but runs were scored off it. 50 partnership off 45 balls - rate slowly increasing.

India 206/2 (35) - Swann once more, but his tight recent few overs are forgotten as Yuvi smears a four, and Sachin belts another big six to take thirteen off the over. England looking down the barrel here, India have lots of powerful batting to come (as well as the batting powerplay). 350 looking well within sight...

@bbcsport_oliver: England's team have 21 ODI centuries between them, Tendulkar's just completed his 47th

India 206/2 (35) - After the four first ball and the huge celebrations from players and crowd, the rest of the over was always going to be an anti-climax. And it was. Two came off the rest of Timmy Bresnan's first over back into the attack.

100! Tendulkar 102 off 103 balls 8x4 4x6: The wait doesn't last long as Tendulkar flicks Bresnan's first ball of his pads for four down to fine leg. Another great hundred from the best batsman of our time - and it has been superb to watch. Well done that man.

India 200/2 (34) - Sachin on 96 with Swann to bowl. Will he try to bring up the ton in one hit? Not yet, just working a single first ball. Yuvraj gives him back the strike - can he do it this over? Three dots from Swann as he tries to frustrate, before a prod from Sachin sees him move to 98 and keep the strike. Only three off the over - Tenders needs to be careful that he doesn't let his personal milestone get in the way of the team's acceleration... *waits for Tendulkar fan club hate*

India 197/2 (33) - We're going to have a bit of twin spin with Yardy back into the attack. His first ball is put away for four by Sachin, who's now in the "probably not so nervous for him because he's been there and done it many times" nineties. Seven off the over.

India 190/2 (32) - Still Swann. And there's something you don't see all too often - a maiden! A half appeal for ell bee to Yuvi is shown by hawkeye to be clipping the stumps - would have been a wasted referral though as it was an "umpire's call" - which would have stayed as not out.

India 190/2 (31) - Jimmy A remains in the attack with his seventh - no doubt will be withdrawn soon to save him for the death overs. Yuvraj hits his first boundary after a couple of single apiece, and 9 off the over keeps the rate up. India will be looking to get well over the 300 mark - a big cameo from someone and this game will be done before England have even got a bat.

@the_topspin: On the old double-your-30-over-score theory, England will be chasing 363. Easy...

India 181/2 (30) - Good return from Swann, a couple of dots built some pressure before getting an important wicket. New man in is Yuvraj Singh, who is bumped up the order to keep the Indian foot firmly on the accelerator. A dot and a single keeps him the strike of Swanny's last two balls.

WICKET! Gambhir b Swann 51 (61) India 180/2 (29.4): Change of ends for Swann - a change of luck? It's certainly a change of bat for GG who had become tired of the one that he used for his first fifty. And a change of batsmen! Swann bowls a nice one that grips and beats the edge, and clips the top of off-stump! England get a valuable wicket - but will need that to be the first of many!

shaggyudal: Sachin........ Decent !!!!

India 179/1 (28) - After Swann was pasted in his one over back, he's withdrawn as Cap'n Strauss turns to senior Jimmy. But he doesn't fare any better; two classical cover drives for four by Sach is added to by a streakier one by GG - 14 off the over and there's fifty for Gambhir.

@tickerscricket: Inspired scheduling: the utter insignificance of this match means England fans can sit back and simply enjoy Tendulkar's brilliance.

India 165/1 (28) - England need wickets. Quickly. And a lot of them. Shahzad bowls well but while he does beat Sachin's edge, no contact is made, and with another boundary to Sach India are running away with this. Hmm...

India 159/1 (27) - Swann back in as England need to attack. But Tendulkar creams his first two balls for six! The crowd understandably go mad - this is a great display from their hero and he looks odds on to make a ton here. While some dream of a 'perfect over', Swann goes around the wicket, and his remaining four balls are milked for four easy singles. Tenners on 72, Gambers on 46, India ominously placed now.

India 144/1 (26) - The Shahzster looking better since returning, but England still don't look like taking wickets. A very optimistic lbw appeal aside, England look as though they could bowl all day and not get these two out. SRT and GG very happy to tick it over with the 100 partnership approaching.

India 140/1 (25) - The Yardonator keeps darting them in, and the now well-set Indians are happy to milk 7 from the over. Here's another cricket advert - Nick Knight dancing. Not sure if this is the best ever advert, more likely it's the worst.

India 133/1 (24) - Reverse swing specialist Shahzad back into the attack. First Mexican Wave of the day as well. A wide of the first ball, but followed up by four dots before GG spoils my question of whether it would have counted as a maiden. They're the only two of the over. England need wickets, India happy to keep it ticking over knowing they can tee off later with wickets in hand.

India 131/1 (23) - A couple of singles off Colly before Sachin sets himself and swings hard over midwicket for the second six of the innings. Fifty for SRT - his 796th fifty. Or something. Ten from the over, and that may be the last we see of Colly for a bit. Tenders really fancies the Prince of Durham. And before I forget - thanks to Wes off of Play For Country for including this live OBO in The Wesden Cricketer this morning. It may well be automated, but thanks anyway.

@tjmurtagh: Predicting India getting 320. Then us to chase it dowwwwn.

India 116/1 (21) - Colly and Yardy get through their overs quickly, not giving me much chance to keep up. Few more singles from the over, England keeping it tight but not threatening to take any wickets. Here's another cricketer-in-an-advert - Eoin Morgan doing a different sort of reverse sweep.

India 111/1 (20) - Colin Wood to continue, and just two are taken from it. A couple of loose ones, but not put away. We may be into the "let's just dob it around and keep the scoreboard ticking over and not take any chances" stage of the innings, I fear. Nelson.

India 109/1 (19) - How about that one stat fans? Change in the bowling at both ends with Mick Yardy coming in to bowl his left-arm darts. Five singles from the over as Tenders and Gambers have a little look at a player they've probably never faced before.

@OptaJim: 55 - James Anderson has now bowled 55 ODI overs in India since he last took a wicket, against Australia in the 2006 Champions Trophy. Barren

India 104/1 (18) - Here we go Fantasy fans - this is where it gets interesting. Paul Collingwood is tossed the ball for his first dibble of the day. With Yardy back into the side, Colly won't bowl his allocation of ten, but he could be vital in keeping the run rate down and chipping in with bonus wickets. Either that or he'll get belted around the park... And Tendulkar hoists him over long on for the first six of the day! However, England's ginger prince only goes for two off the other five balls so not a disastrous over. 100 up for the hosts.

India 96/1 (17) - GG and SRT looking to get on top of Swanny; another four from the ever increasing in confidence Gambhir takes the score to 96 and the partnership to 50. And here's another advert that was suggested - quite a nice one. In a harmless sort of way. Drinks.

India 90/1 (16) - Bres continues after the fielding restrictions end, and four singles taken off the first four. Umpire Bowden gets his nail scissors out to attend to a peeling ball, before a dot and a two. Six off it. I'm not trying to find the best cricket based advert. Any suggestions?

@alexhales: Is it just me or are @Swannyg66 's teeth upside down?!!

India 84/1 (15) - That was in no way my favourite cricketer-in-advert video, but it was the first one that came to mind (they showed it every twenty seconds during the Ashes). Gambers pastes a loose Swann ball for four first up, but he tightens up to only allow two singles and a wide from the rest of the over. Bowling powerplay down and it's in the balance. England have bowled well, but India will be pleased that only one wicket has gone down. Could be intriguing.

India 77/1 (14) - SuperSport have just shown an advert where AB de Villiers and JP Duminy ride an umpire like a horse. I tried to find the YouTube link, but couldn't. So I tried to find the second best cricketer-in-advert vid (Doug Bollinger doing the KFC chicken dance) but couldn't. So here's this one.

In amongst all of that, Bresnan bowled a maiden to Tenders.

India 77/1 (13) - Swann continues in the powerplay, and GG charges down the pitch and bludgeons the offie over the vacant mid on for a one-bounce four. Swann and cap'n Strauss have a chat, before the next ball Gambhir tries it again, but inside egdes it beyond the helpless Prior for another four. Streaky. Eleven from that one. Profitable.

@nevharvey > @hannah_itfc its a good nickname, and you can say Swannasaurus wrecks, when he takes a wicket :P

India 66/1 (12) - Bres once more, and finally Gambhir plays an aggressive stroke; charging down the pitch and putting it away for four. Bit more circumspect from GG and SRT after Sehwag fell. A single apiece for the two after the 4, and 6 are taken from the 12th.

@hannah_itfc: Time for the Swannasaurus. Not quite sure why I'm coming up with these nicknames. #cwc2011

India 60/1 (11) - As one powerplay ends, another one starts, and surprisingly Graeme Swann into the attack in the restrictions. Hint of spin as Swanny bowls to an aggressive field. Just two runs, England reigning in India after a strong start. Run rate at 5.45. Bowling well.

India 58/1 (10) - Bres keeps going for his second over and starts with a pearler that GG sort of nibbles at but thinks better of. SRT and GG both take some singles, but Shahzad misfields in the deep to allow them to come back for two. Bres didn't look happy. Shahz has looked a touch overawed today - that's his second misfield in ten overs. Good over from Bres, four off it.

India 54/1 (9) - Sachin yet to really get firing, but continuing Jim strays onto his pads and Tenders takes two consecutive boundaries. Jim sorts out his line and ends with two dots - India's fifty up and going well.

the_topspin: Graeme Swann said there's no better sound than silence in an Indian cricket ground. For a moment there, he got his wish...

India 46/1 (8) - New man is Gambhir. Strauss sticks himself in as slip, and Bres bowls a beaut to the new lefty, slanting across GG. Gambo feels for it but can't edge it. Two off the over - great start from Timmy B.

WICKET! Sehwag c Prior b Bresnan 35 (26) India 46/1 (7.5) - After Aj's nervy start, Tim "our favourite Nan" Bresnan comes in for a twirl. A couple of well directed balls on a tight line - and he's gone! Sehwag edges and Prior takes a great one handed diver down low - and the crowd are silenced! India 46/1

India 44/0 (7) - My first comment! I feel very popular. Thanks WL! Jim to start the seventh over - England have bowled well without luck and will need to separate these two before they get settled and dangerous. But Sehwag shows his class with two brutal fours to take eleven off the over. Good platform being set by these two.

WACALekas said...
Seems to us that nobody has told the Indian crowd that this game is pretty much irrelevant. Maybe Lorgat has forbidden the press from explaining the structure to the Indian people.

India 33/0 (6) - In case you were wondering, Fantasy wise there isn't much interest for me in these early stages. Playing in this game for Mohammad Amir's Under 18s are Strauss (capt), Trott, Collingwood and Pathan. Neither are batting or bowling yet. But will keep you up to date. Six runs off Aj's over and India are at a healthy 33 after 6.

India 27/0 (5) - Jimbo bowls a couple of beauts to Tenders. Half appeal as the ball hits pad (but bat involved), before a play and miss from the little master. A tuck off the pads loops enticingly towards Timmy Bresnan, but it falls just short. Great bowling. But then an average ball is played beautifully away for four by SRT - there's the class of the man.

India 21/0 (4) - Shahzy to continue, and a bit better from the Yorkie. Strays but once onto Tendulkar's hips, but it's fielded well on the fine leg boundary by KP. Three off the over, and a bit in this for both sides.

India 18/0 (3) - Tendulkar had only faced one ball of the first two overs but has the strike. He pushes a single first ball, and after Sehwag also scores one, Sachin plays out the over without getting out, much to the delight of the crowd.

@NeilMCarter: Not that he needs 2, but sehwag would have a great chance of winning the lottery if he bought tickets! #luckiestmanalive

India 16/0 (2) - Ajmal Shahzad (big day for him) to share the new ball. His first ball however, is dispatched by Sehwag - far too wide there. A couple of dots and then a cracked boundary from Sehwag takes the score to sixteen. Up and down over from Aj who looks understandably a touch nervous.

India 8/0 (1) - First ball from Anderson... ooaaaohh! Edge from Sehwag flies through Graeme Swann at second slip and goes for four. Big chance - that looked distinctly catchable. And aaaaarrghgh! A leading edge from Sehwag flies over Ian Bell who dives in vain and they scamper two. And ooohhohhohoh! Another leading edge from Viru somehow pops over bowler Anderson's outstretched fingers and he survives! Another wide and a single mean that eight are taken from the over - but Sehwag could / should have been out thrice there. Teapots all round from England - you can't let him have those amount of chances early. But Swann's drop aside (should have taken it) - that's just plain bad luck.

0859: Controversial call from BBC Sport's Oliver Brett. I'd have stuck Yardy in for the ill Broad. Waiting to get going here, players getting ready. Anderson to have the first hurl. Here we go...

@bbcsport_oliver: Happy to be proved wrong, but dropping Ravi Bopara looks a poor move. He is our finisher in the absence of Morgan, Bell should have made way

0853: The Indian one, as expected, is belted out by one and all. No problems with the sound on that one. HUGE cheer after. One bloke screaming at the top of his lungs. And that's just for the anthem. Imagine if Tendulkar made runs - the roof will come off!

0851: Anthem time. False start with England's one (sounds like someone put the tape in backwards), but it's pulled out of the bag by a rousing version of God Save the Queen. Sung vocally by all, except Trott and Pietersen. What can we read into that?

0849: Prediction? England could either put on a brilliant team performance and win, or fold miserably and lose embarrassingly. No consistency or middle ground with this England side. India, as we know, are a class side, and while England could pull it out the bag, I'd still back India to win.

0846: Broad missing out is a bit of a bugger - he's been England's best bowler in the warm-ups and Holland game. Big loss seeing as Jimmy and Bres not in the most sparkling of form. Big game for Shahzad, hopefully he can step up.

0845: England wise - Yardy probably needed to play, but maybe not at the expense of Bops. An ODI number seven needs to be a proper batsman - and sadly neither Yardy or Bresnan is good enough.

0842: I'm at the mercy of SuperSport's coverage in South Africa where they haven't yet given the teams or the toss, but Cricinfo and Twitter (notoriously reliable) have told me MS Dhoni tossed correctly and chose to have a bat. Apparently a bat first pitch.

0841: Here's the teams. India - SR Tendulkar, V Sehwag, G Gambhir, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni*†, YK Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, PP Chawla, Z Khan, MM Patel. England - AJ Strauss*, KP Pietersen, IJL Trott, IR Bell, PD Collingwood, MJ Prior†, MH Yardy, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, A Shahzad, JM Anderson.

0839: Just the one change for India after their convincing win last week over the Bangers with spinner Chawla coming in for reknowned mentalist Sreesanth.

0837: The big news for England is that Stuart Broad has tweeted that his dicky tum has meant he's staying in bed. Ajmal Shahzad comes in for him. Ravi Bopara is unlucky to miss out with Mick Yardy coming in to bat at seven.

0835: As this is my first ever OBO, I'm going to need all the help I can get. Tweet me @shortmidwicket, email me at, Facebook me if you're my friend, or leave a comment on the comment bit at the bottom. Ta.

0832: Hello and welcome to the first ever Short Midwicket Over by Over game. World Cup hosts and favourites India take on an out of form, out of sorts, and out of favour England. Let's do it.

Friday, 25 February 2011

"Saffers, Saffers everywhere..."

I am lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to be in South Africa throughout this World Cup. While there are some obvious advantages (weather, for one), it does mean I have to put up with the pro-Protea drivel ahead of the inevitable semi-final choke.

Part of the "South Africa is the greatest" hype machine is the "everyone else is rubbish and cheating and don't deserve to win and won't win because South Africa is the greatest" angle. That includes badmouthing all the other teams, by pointing out that they're fulled with Protea rejects. So aren't as good as the real deal.

Take this article as an example. Not content with finding every person who's ever been to Southern Africa, and shoehorning them in as traitors, they're also backhandedly getting their excuses in early. If England win, South Africa win because of Trott, Strauss, Prior and KP. If Kenya win, it's because Jonty Rhodes is their fielding coach. And if Australia win it's because they wear green and gold too.

This general South African feeling of annoyance that their boys are turning out in the blues, greens, reds and blacks of the other nations is not without a slight amount of hypocrisy. I don't know much about Peter Davies, but reading his next blog, he speaks eloquently about how well Imran Tahir bowled. Pakistan born and bred Imran Tahir. The elephant in the room.

I can understand South African frustration that for one reason or another, some of the best players in world cricket have slipped through their fingers. And as an England fan who's seen Pietersen, Trott, Kieswetter and Lumb play this year (don't forget Eoin Morgan... but that's another story) I have accepted that there will be some sniping and bitterness from the South African cricket fraternity. But now, on behalf of world cricket, I'm humbly asking you to quietly stop. The moment Imran Tahir kissed the badge on his chest was the moment the "imported cricketers are ruining the game" argument lost all it's credability.

So no moaning at Ryan ten Doeschate that he went orange instead of green, OK?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Podcast - Allen Stanford's Helicopter

On the Podbean

The first few games of the World Cup have been going on, and the minnows have been crushed. Apart from England, who scraped a victory. Haroon Lorgat wants 'em out - but Will (and special guest) have other ideas. Also discussed are the standings of Fantasy League, as well as a surprise tip from the guest. All of that and more in The Short Midwicket World Cup Podcast. Spedpert.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Kent's New Mascot

Those of you who follow the T20 Finals Day Mascot Derby will be fully averse with the exploits of Kent's "Bomber the Spitfire". Bomber has been nothing short of a disgrace, as by being just a bloke with some wings, he doesn't conform to mascot rules.

After winnning the race in 2007 (by running past Lanky the Giraffe at the line), strict rules were imposed on him by ECB officials, in order to make it fairer for the other mascots who had to put in the hours of practice just so they could compete. In order to slightly impede his movement, Bomber was forced to wear giant mascot shoes to align him with the other mascots who had to deal with tails, heavy furry legs, and other such impediments. However, in 2009's controversial race, Bomber was stripped of his win because he'd kicked off his shoes before the race had started. General poor behaviour in the mascot's paddock has seen Kent replace him, and in this humble blogger's opinion, not a day too soon!

Here's to a clean race at Edgbaston in 2011!

World Cup Opening Weekend

I'm contractually obliged in my new role as a Yahoo CommenTweeter not to massively slag off the ICC. So this isn't going to be the whole "The World Cup is stupid, the ICC is stupid" blog that this could have been.

Instead, I'm more questioning the logic of the fixtures. So far we've had three fixtures. India v Bangladesh was the obvious opening fixture, so no complaints with that. It had great atmosphere, great rivalry and was overall a good game (even if one side were always going to dominate it).

Sunday's games have been a bit different. Kenya played New Zealand, and Sri Lanka played Canada. Two obvious minnows against two established members of cricket's upper echelons.

While this World Cup is in it's infancy, surely the organisers would want some good, competitive games in order to ignite interest and excitement in the tournament. Two crushing defeats (which let's be honest, were always going to happen) didn't offer that. The ICC decide upon who plays each other, and when. Surely it would have made more sense to see a New Zealand v Australia, or Sri Lanka v Pakistan or something like that. That would have been more interesting, more engaging, and given this tournament an explosive start. As it is, we've stuttered into the World Cup, and it will need something much more exciting to kick start it and get us going.

So my non-anti-ICC point is that they could have picked better games to get us going, rather than the ones we saw today.

However, the ICC are a fantastic organisation, as are Yahoo, and Reebok, Hero Honda, Reliance, Castrol and

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Podcast - I Won't Say The C Word

Podbean wouldn't say the C Word either

The World Cup is starting, so amidst all of the fun and games, Will and his special guest are playing some fun and games. There's also a cursory look at the contendors as well as some warm-up chat. And some stuff about Bryan Adams.

To play The Cricinfo Fantasy Game, go to and to enter Fantasy League, enter league pin 1992. For The Short Midwicket Fantasy League on, the password is spedpert.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

KP - an opener?

So after appointing Matt Prior to the England side and saying that he will open in the World Cup, England have obviously had a change of heart. In the 7th ODI, Steve Davies opened With Prior at 6, and now Kevin Pietersen has, in the game against Canada. Because England have made a big and obvious change in batting line-up so close to the World Cup, you'd think that this is now the direction we're going in (although you can never really tell). While it was glaringly obvious that Matt Prior isn't an international opener, and I commend Team England for being brave and making a big call such as promoting KP, I probably think they've made the wrong call.

Kevin Pietersen is a world-class player. Absolutely brilliant batsman. But is he an opener? Well, given the fact that in six years of international cricket he's never done it, it seems an odd time to thrust such a responsibility onto him. Don't forget, opening the innings is a very different proposition to batting anywhere else in the order. To come directly in to powerplay overs, with the bowlers fired up bowling at their fastest with a new, hard ball and being asked to score quickly is a much different challenge to coming in later on in the order, when a big lead could already be on the board, with the ball soft, bowlers tired and part-timers in operation.

I'm not saying it's something Kevin Pietersen can't do, because as the top class international batsman that he is, I'm sure he'll adapt. However, I'm not sure it's the best thing for England to do.

For my money, experience is everything. While KP has the experience of over 100 ODIs, he doesn't have much experience (either at international or county level) of opening the innings. Whereas Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara have all opened, both for their respective domestic sides, and sparingly for England. While they may not be out and out openers; they've been there, done that, and know what to do. Which is more than can be said about KP.

But suitability for the role aside, the biggest mistake in promoting Pietersen isn't what it adds to the top of the order; it's what's taken away from the middle order. KP has become such a world reknowned batsman by coming in two down, and either rebuilding the innings with much needed stability, or continuing an already good start and firing England to a high score. While admittedly he hasn't been in the richest vein of form recently, there were signs in the 7 match marathon against Australia that he can do it (when he's bothered). Taking such an established part of England's batting plans out of the middle order the week after Eoin Morgan was ruled out of the World Cup (and given Paul Collingwood's continued horror run of form), suddely that England middle order doesn't look so solid.

While I applaud the English selectors for making an obviously bold decision, I think that Pietersen is the wrong man to open alongside Cap'n Strauss. I'd much rather see Bell or Bopara face the new-ball instead. But if England bat as badly as they did against Canada, the order shouldn't really make too much difference. That's probably the thing they'll need to work on first.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

England's World Cup Kits - A History

After today's earlier blogs about the kit that's been unveiled (in the loosest sense of the word) for this upcoming 2011 Cricket World Cup, it's only right and proper that I look at the history of kits that have adorned the England players as they've failed miserably at previous World Cups. Due to these failures, most of the pictures that I've found are of England players looking rather glum as other teams celebrate. But that's all part of the fun of being an England fan!


1992 was the first World Cup where the teams wore colours rather than whites, and the first kit England wore is an absolute retro classic. While it is an absolute belter (I love a good light blue England kit), points are lost due to a lack of originality - every team at that World Cup had exactly the same shirt just in different colours. But still, a kit that's probably improved over time due to the retro factor.


While 1992 could be called "retro and nice", 1996 could be called "retro and not so nice". It's not a very nice shirt. It just isn't. And this picture of Neil Smith both sums up the shirt, and England's performance.


The '99 World Cup was a bit of a debacle from England's perspective. But at least they looked nice doing it. It was the first World Cup where teams could wear whatever kit they wanted (within reason) and Asics' effort actually isn't too bad (considering the efforts put out by some of the other teams, and the fact that it was the nineties). Overall, not too shabby.


England's 2003 kit again wasn't that bad. While compared to some of the other nations the shirt from Admiral was a little behind the fashion times, it was a respectable effort.


Like 2003, England's shirt was pretty cool, but compared to the other countries was a little behind the times. Admittedly I do have a soft spot for this kit; I like the red arm and other little red bit on the other side. And I like how the collar has a red and white halved thing going on. I do like this one.


And here's the 2011 effort. For some reason, it's black.

Overall England haven't done too badly in the World Cup kit stakes. There have been a few shockers from other countries, but other than the 1996 horror, England's shirts have been rather respectable, if nothing else. This current one from adidas certainly isn't for the traditionalists (it's black, for a start) but how will it be judged when I repeat this World Cup kit countdown in 2015? Only time will tell...

England's Cricket World Cup 2011 Shirt - Revealed!

UPDATE - at end of the post - 25/2/2011

Thanks to an anonymous tip off on my ranting moaning blog about the lack of England World Cup shirt information, I've found some exclusive pictures. Here they are.

And here's the shirt.

Textbook portrait work from Strauss

So there it is. And the obvious thing to note - it's colour. It's black. England's adidas kits started out quite a deep shade of blue, and have been getting progressively darker ever since. But from memory, this is the first time England have had an actual black shirt in ODIs. Which is a surprise.

As you can see on Ian Bell (who's probably taking this modelling thing a bit too seriously), the black shirt is complemented by red arms, and red panels under the arms. There's a tiny bit of white trim in there as well.

Jimmy's pretty gutted that he was asked to wear clothes for this latest modelling shoot

So what do I think about it? Well, after the initial shock that it's black, I don't mind it. I actually think it's quite nice. I'm sure theres all sorts of scientific spiel that is involved in the kit, but since I haven't been given a press release (not like last time), I can't tell you if there's any distinct advantage to this shirt, but on a purely visual level, I quite like it. I'd prefer to see a more colourful (either a nice bright blue, a bright red, or even a light blue shirt), but if I was told that England had to wear black this World Cup, this would probably be the best option available.

So now we just need to hope that it brings England a bit of luck!

25th February UPDATE!

We have some more information. The shirt will be available after the World Cup, and will be worn as England's ODI shirt for 2011 and the winter of 2012. Here it is all logo-ed up (can't wear big sponsors in ICC events...)


and back

And here's the coporate spiel.

Climacool. A mixture of heat and moisture controlling materials, ventilation channels and three dimensional fabrics allow air to flow close to the skin. Key factors are taken into consideration such as the key heat and ventilation zones, the use of moisture management fabrics and conductive fibres that draw heat away from the body. Assists the athlete with temperature regulation regardless of the conditions.

Emboss print to front to add fabric value, Embossed lion to rear, stand up collar for UV protection, zip neck closure, embroidered adidas and ECB logo, Collegiate and light red contrast colour blocking to tie into traditional ECB red and bold training wear red, printed Brit to front centre chest and sleeve.

It doesn't make a great deal of sense, but there you have it. I've bought you as much information as I have. adidas - if you want to send me a shirt for all of my hard work, you know where to find me!

England's Kit Confusion

As you all know, it's not about the batsmen, the bowlers, the pinch-hitters or the death bowlers. The Cricket World Cup is all about the kits that the teams will be wearing. The fashions of the World Cup are big - with new shirts highly trumpeted and millions sold worldwide. Not too long ago we saw a whole evening devoted to the launch of the Proteas World Cup kit (to mixed reviews), but despite the fact that England are likely to have a nice new shirt, there's been a deathly silence.

There's nothing on the ECB website. There's nothing on the adidas website (who don't have a cricket specific page - or even recognise it under the "Other Sports" section). There's been absolutely nothing said by anyone. We don't even know for 100% definite that there's even going to be a new shirt worn at the World Cup.

While this is a very minor issue in the grand plan of winning the World Cup, it isn't the greatest chapter in the history of the ECB or adidas' public relations. The launch of the kit, as seen when South Africa had a big gala unveiling of theirs, can be a great event to whet the appetite of the cricketing public ahead of the World Cup. And for kids (OK, mostly me), seeing a new kit is really cool and exciting. The ECB and adidas have missed a big trick, as if they had a big launch, it would create a real buzz about the kit, and people would be rushing down the shops to get their nice new World Cup shirt with "Wright 6" or "Tredwell 53" on the back. As it is, there's nothing. Just me, constantly searching the internet for anything about the kit.

Here's how adidas had a go in the past - the launch of test, ODI and T20 shirts in 2008. Bit better than the silence of 2011. And it's got Tim Ambrose, which is always a plus.

Given that adidas have just launched a new shirt for South Africa, I'm going to assume that England are using the same template, with the green and yellow subsituted for red and blue. After much sweeping of the internet, I've found a potential artist's impression. No idea if this is going to be the real deal, but it's the best we've got.

Graeme Smith in the Proteas adidas World Cup kit

Is this the kit? Who knows...

This England shirt (if there even is a new shirt and they aren't just keeping the current navy-with-green-armpit one) won't be getting a big launch with fanfares, cheerleaders or fireworks. It will more likely than not be first seen on whoever walks onto the pitch first in the warm up against Canada on Wednesday. Hardly the big launch that it deserves. Mainly because I love a good kit launch.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Don't Mention The C-Word

Earlier on, I was talking to a South African about who I thought would win the World Cup. After discussing the chances of India, Sri Lanka, Australia and England, he wondered why I hadn't mentioned his Proteas.

As soon as he asked me, a look of panic came across his face. His brow filled suddenly with sweat, and his breaths became shallow and rapid. He knew the word I was about to come out with, even before I'd said it.

"Well... they're chokers".

Calling South Africa chokers has become such a stereotype. But a team don't get a reputation for something like that for no reason. But are a couple of occurences of choking a generation ago indicative of a nation's psyche?

Talking to other South Africans, the thinking is that for the first time in quite a few World Cups, there isn't much expected of the Proteas. With high hopes in '99, '03, and even in '07, pressure was high, and the South Africans notably didn't deal very well with it. The theory is that as much isn't hoped for of the South Africans, they won't be heavily burdened by the weight of expectation, and won't choke.

I was surprised when talking to the eminent Saffas that not much is expected from their boys. They're in the top couple of sides in the world, and they've just beaten India in a hard-fought series. For my money, they'll be "there or thereabouts". They'll (barring disaster) qualify easily from the groups, which puts them only one game away from a semi-final. While the team, supporters and management have been downplaying Protea chances, chances are they'll be again in a situation which they haven't deal with very well historically.

While the choking occured a couple of cricketing generations ago (and as such didn't feature many of this current outfit), the mental scars that remain still haunt this nation. While they undoutably have to be considered as winners, they'll only be able to lift the trophy if they overcome their biggest foes. Themselves.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

England's Future ODI Side

In my earlier post (this one here), I had a look at why Kevin Pietersen could walk away from playing ODI cricket. Assuming KP does decide to give it up, and with the likelihood that Paul Collingwood isn't long for international cricket either (as well as a couple of questions over some of the others), England could easily have a very different looking ODI line-up post World Cup.

The period following the World Cup is historically a time of change. New captains are appointed, the old guard either retire triumphantly or are booted out unceremoniously, and the chaff are discarded in favour of younger, fresher models. Of the 15 men England have picked for this World Cup, it's not inconcievable that at least eight are playing their last lot of ODIs for a number of reasons. So if eight go out, there will need to be a new seven to come in. So who could they be?

Well, to start, I'll show my logic behind the figure of the eight to never again play. While KP has denied he's retiring from ODIs, there's often no smoke without fire, and as I said in the earlier article, chances are that he'll walk away. Paul Collingwood has already retired from tests, and following a disgustingly bad run of form, may either choose to retire from internationals full stop, or be given the heave ho as Team England look to get in a new and improved model. James Tredwell seems to have been picked on the basis that it would be mean to leave him out - and the fact that even Andy Flower was being mooted as being selected ahead of him suggests there isn't much confidence in him from the powers that be. And with Adil Rashid knocking on the door, there may no longer be a place for Tredders in the party. Same sort of goes for Mick Yardy, who is probably a better bowler when he has only four overs to be canny, rather than ten, where batsmen are able to eventually score freely off him, and his lack of wicket-taking is fairly glaring. So he could also be on the ODI scrap heap.

Matt Prior has been called up from ODI obscurity for the World Cup, but it wouldn't take much for Davies or Kieswetter to replace him. In fact, chances are Davies would be put back in following the World Cup, and given the chance to bed in and improve in confidence and experience. Ravi Bopara should be in the England team, but for whatever reason, he hasn't been. Some would say this is a personality issue, but the fact that England have been so wary in picking him suggests there isn't much confidence in him from the selectors, so when Morgan returns, Bopara could have pulled on the Three Lions for the last time. And maybe they'll have just have had enough of Luke Wright after this World Cup, and if there's any justice in the world, he won't be playing internationally following the tournament.

So that's seven names. And the last one who potentially could play no more ODI cricket could be captain Strauss, as he may want to bow out at the top of ODI cricket (if England win) in order to prolong his test career. And he hasn't been uber brilliant at ODIs anyway.

So here's the fun part. Naming potential replacements. Unless something odd happens, England will have the nucleus of Bell, Trott, Morgan, Swann, Bresnan, Broad and Anderson (with Shahzad also in there to carry drinks) as 100% cast iron available for ODIs over the next few years. So they'll in all likelihood be in there.

Starting with the bowling attack (as the basis is already there), I'll assume that England will want to go with the 3 fast and 2 spin option (of which one of them is handy enough to bat at seven) going forward. Bres, Broad and Anderson are sorted as the three pacers (with Shahzad, Woakes, Finn or Tremlett as alternatives), with Swann guaranteed to play as well. For my other spinner, who I'd also bat at seven, is Adil Rashid. Rashid is easily good enough to bat seven for England, and is developing into a top-class one day leg spinner. We've seen him recently be a big part of the Redbacks winning the Big Bash, and he clearly has the talents readily available to take into international cricket. While there may be an issue about his attitude, I'm sure he'll be fine.

And now batting. For me, Davies should have the gloves, and could open if there aren't any other alternatives. I'd like to see Kent's Joe Denly given another shot internationally as I think he's class. (The Key-Denly dream team opening for England could yet happen...) So Davies to open with Denly, with Trott, Bell and Morgan at 3, 4 and 5. Leaving a batting berth up for grabs.

Yorkshire's Andy Gale has been maturing into a really good cricketer. With some really good one day performances especially (albeit higher up the order), Gale has thrived under the responsibility of captaining the white rose. So I'd get him in. To captain.

OK, seriously, while I think Gale is a FEC, he's not an immediate FEC. So Gale comes in at 6, and I'd give Jimmy Anderson the proverbial one-day armband. Because I think he'd do the best job.

So that would be my England One Day International side, effective the end of the World Cup. And it probably doesn't bode well that I've already written this World Cup off and am planning for 2015...

My England ODI team for the summer

Joe Denly
Steve Davies (wk)
Jonathan Trott
Ian Bell
Eoin Morgan
Andrew Gale
Adil Rashid
Tim Bresnan
Graeme Swann
Stuart Broad
Jimmy Anderson (c)